An important factor to enabling flow is being at ease in your environment. You need to be comfortable and relaxed. Though practice, it is possible to gradually get comfortable with the uncomfortable, allowing you to transcend fear and access flow when it counts the most.
Consider your comfort zone as a series of well demarcated circles around you like a target with you in the centre. As you push your boundaries ever so slightly, and step over the outer lines of the circles, you expand the circles diameter as a representation of growing the realm of what you are comfortable with. Pushing comfort zones brings things you once thought to be uncomfortable into your accepted reality. They allow us to stretch our boundaries and give rise to a new capacity that we have previously only dreamed of.
Let’s take surfing as an example. Many people start by surfing smaller waves in a safe environment. As they become comfortable with these waves they might drop into something a little bit bigger. As they keep testing the limits of what is comfortable, they integrate the experience of the larger waves into their normality. Before long they are surfing head high waves that they once looked upon with awe. It’s possible to keep surfing bigger and bigger waves, as they too get integrated in to what is considered normal. These continuing sequence of consistently pushing the bar and taking the challenge to the next level is the reason why adventure sports has been such a focus point for peak performance in this last decade. Each time they upgrade and widen the circle there is an element of fear to be overcome. It’s a fear of the unknown; a variety of manifested feelings derived from a multitude of ‘what if’ scenarios.
These fears are no more real than an oasis in the desert. When we apply the flow elements and maintain an honest reality of the situation we see the desert for what it is; we see the situation without the fear it once ignited. When we ‘keep it real’ and acknowledge that any uncomfortableness is simply a resistance to learning, or for some accepting that we are already more capable than we would like to think, we free our minds of the anxiety and fearful thoughts that would normally have us turning back. When we become comfortable with being uncomfortable, our perspective changes and we stop thinking and start doing. It is in this mental space that we find the release valve during this struggle and plug in to flow. As long as our skills have been adequately trained, this uncomfortableness is actually the perfect prequel to finding flow.
By regularly pushing the outer circles of our comfort zones, this feeling of unfamiliarity is something we get used to. If we are to strive for excellence, it is only a matter of time before we become uncomfortable, at which point it is essential we become at ease in this environment and enable flow to occur.
So, in practical terms, regularly do things that are out of your comfort zone. Learn to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, and learn to access flow when it counts the most.